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New Fuel Cell To Provide Limitless Cheap Energy
One of the world's leading hydrogen fuel experts, who first started powering cars and trucks on ordinary well water some 25 years ago, says his new hydrogen "fuel cell" is the breakthrough that's been needed to produce cost-effective engines for cars, trucks, tractors and other equipment.
Dr. Roger Billings, who runs the non-profit American Academy of Science in Independence, Mo., says hydrogen gas burns fine in ordinary internal combustion engines. The problem is that it costs the equivalent of about $2.25 per gal. to bum because of the energy required to create the gas, by running electricity through water.
Now Billings says he's solved the problem by taking space-age fuel cell technology and adapting it to car and pickup size power units that'll "bum" hydrogen gas for the gas-equivalent price of $1.12 per gal.
"We spent years looking for less expensive ways to produce hydrogen," says Billings. "The solution finally came when we looked for a better way to use the fuel."
Fuel cells transform hydrogen and oxygen into water and electricity. There's no pollution generated - the car currently under development "exhausts" water vapor - and the fuel cell has no moving parts, so it's quiet and won't wear out. Electricity produced by the fuel cell is used to power an electric motor which drives the vehicle.
"Fuel cell technology has been around for a long time. Electric instruments on the Apollo moon missions and more recently on the Space Shuttle have been powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The space versions of the fuel cell are too expensive and too heavy for use in a vehicle. This is a case where the space age version of a technology is not good enough for down to earth applications," says Billings.
His breakthrough consists of a new light-weight cell fabricated by high-power laser. The fuel cell will drive a vehicle twice as far on the same amount of hydrogen fuel as hydrogen-powered vehicles in the past. Hydrogen is stored in metal hydride tanks that "absorb" the hydrogen, releasing it as needed to the fuel cell. Driving range of an average size tank will be about 300 miles.
What's more, fuel cells produce their own fuel. By "reversing" the chemical process within the cell, it will split water into hydrogen and oxygen. When the car is parked, you simply plug it into water and electrical lines to produce a new load of fuel overnight. In most areas of the country, Billings says you will be able to use cheaper off-peak electrical power for extra savings. Hydrogen produced under those circumstances could cost as little as $.46 per gal., he claims.
The new fuel cell is the size of a small television. Billings expects it would retail for about $3,500. He plans to license the cell to companies that want to commercialize it and is currently installing the first prototype "LaserCel" in a car for the Pennsylvania Energy Office. The car should be up and running by the end of January. Billings is also working with aerospace giant Lockheed to install the fuel cell in an under-water vehicle propulsion system where it would be ideal because it eliminates the need for a bank of heavy batteries.
Billing's hydrogen work has been sponsored for years by private investors, like John K. Hansen, the founder of Winnebago Industries, who invested $1 million several years ago. The work has been carried on with other private funds and contributions, as well as income from private development contracts.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dr. Roger Billings, American Academy of Science, 26900 East Pink Hill Road, Independence, Mo. 64057 (ph 816 229-3800).

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1991 - Volume #15, Issue #1